We tend to connect travel costs with our own trips out of town. Sometimes, though, such costs show up unexpectedly on our doorsteps, in the form of people who violate Ben Franklin’s maxim about houseguests, overstay their welcomes in our homes, and lower their own expenses by transferring them to their hosts’ budgets. As a public service, we therefore offer a few tips on how to (diplomatically) ask unwanted travel guests to leave. (Please note: These suggestions aren’t guaranteed to work. In fact, you really should review your specific state’s laws on houseguests before letting them into your home.)
Stop treating them like guests. The longer someone stays in your home, the more that person becomes a part of the family (or an unofficial tenant). Just as you expect your children to do household chores to earn their allowance, ask unwelcome visitors to work (and/or pay) for their accommodations. One potential drawback (beyond the possibility of creating an implicit pay-to-stay agreement): Once your guests start chipping in for privileges, they may expect better service. You might avoid this by assigning them particularly unenviable, unenjoyable chores.
Stop acting like a host(ess). Most of us behave differently when guests are around. Our ingrained living habits — casual clothes around the house, dinner in front of the TV, milk gulped straight out of the container — often vanish, at least temporarily. Go back to your preferred lifestyle: Play your favorite music whenever you want, catch up on TV shows according to your own desires and schedule, fix single-serving (or strictly family-size) meals, and tell your guests they’re on their own.
Make yourself unavailable. Even the rudest guests might find it difficult to justify staying in your home if you suddenly got sick or had to go away. (Don’t accept their offer to look after you or your house. If necessary, tell them you have a long-time nursing/house-sitting arrangement with someone who owns a Doberman pinscher that doesn’t like strangers.) If your guests don’t take the hint, start packing your bags or exhibiting uncomfortable signs of illness, and shoo them out as you go along.
Show them the (hotel) door. If you can afford it, pay for a night at a local hotel, tell your guests it’s non-refundable, and present the offer in a way that makes it hard to decline (e.g., “I really can’t recommend this hotel highly enough” or “you’d be doing me a huge favor”).
Be honest. If worse comes to worst, the truth can set you free. Tell your guests you need to get back to your previous life — the one you enjoyed before they arrived.
Houseguests who refuse to leave can take an unexpected bite out of your household finances. To stretch your travel budget as far as possible, try Travel Plus, where you’ll earn 5% cash back on flight, hotel, and rental-car reservations, as well as rebates on a wide range of travel perks. Happy trails (and please remember to go home at a reasonable time)!